DIY Magnetizing miniature limbs -Prepping tutorial. (On a 40k Sororitas Palatine)

I’ve been proposed by @SHAWSHANK to put together a sort of tutorial on how do I go about magnetizing my minis. Since I got that big box of monopose minis that was Indomitus, I have been doing it this way, and getting quite some praise by both fellow hobbyists and the eventual non-initiates that stumble into my lair for the last year or so…

I came to expect muggles be surprised by the detailed subjects, with their usual “omg! they so tiiiny!” But to encounter other fellow hobby addicts who I often consider more skilled than myself to be somewhat entertained by the concept I was the one surprised.

The concept of magnetized minis is nothing new, I have heard of it since forever… and I truly thought it was a wider spread practice. Specially for actual players of the game!

A sprue… So much potential!

It just makes sense, I was sure, with the constant changes on the meta, or having to adjust costs to build a list within a margin of points, but didn’t want to play with a whole army of proxy gear, confusing themselves and their opponent. Summarized in the even older concept of Wysiwyg, which is not a Goblin name, but rather stands for “What You See Is What You Get”… Often imposed as a rule in tournaments, and I’d say nice etiquette for even casual games, is the notion of having the rules of equipment you use, matching what is represented on the physical miniatures you are playing with. I mean… You are already trying to evade yourself by getting immersed into a game of static tiny figures, rules and dice… Having to constantly ask what is that thing that you are supposed to be fighting against, doesn’t help to our escapism! I think it’s the same reason even the less artistically inclined of players understand why it is frown upon to bring your minis unpainted to the party!

Checking the instructions can be a good idea.

Although I am not a player… I paint, dabble in some conversion and gloat on the finished thing, roleplaying sci-fi adventures in my imagination… And generally I just like the options, by the appreciation of the alternative sculpts.

I do keep in mind the idea of some day playing, or reselling some of my stuff to keep the ball rolling and my home habitable for regular sized humans, and who knows if some years down the line nobody will want melta-guns?

Cut and clean the parts as best you can, or know how to.

But there are other reasons… I don’t know how people who plays manage to have any kind of detail protruding from their figures, but mine often drop, tangle on one another, or get crushed by my arm when trying to reach something over them. By having their limbs magnetized, they no longer snap and break… they just turn, or worse case they detach. When they drop, instead of breaking, the energy is dispersed by making the parts fly apart. You may have some hunting to do, but no glue involved!

The other thing is posability (which doesn’t seem to be a real word) but I think it’s understood since the age of Madelman and Barbie as the capability of a figure to change its pose, through articulation. That helps with composing nice shots, group poses and showcasing unusual, or less seen angles of a miniature that can be of more interest… Supposing you don’t enjoy going “pew-pew!” and simulating the kickback of the weapon while “Swooosh!” slashing the miniature in front of your hero with a sweeping chain-sword! But… Who would do that!? We’re grown ups, here!

Remove the pegs… and sand that cut,

Then comes “soft-conversion”, LEGO 40K, or the ability to not having to commit to permanently chop and glue parts of your models to enjoy having some unique, interesting or maybe flat-ass ugly mix that was a terrible idea, impractical and that rendered you having half a good thing for the price of two. As you do this to your models, all the extras become a sea of possibilities for past, present and future ones.

Choose the magnet… For a head, the 2x1s will do.

So! How to go about it? Files, clippers or whatever you use to clean your sprues and moldlines, pin-vise, Cyanoacrylate glue (CA glue, super-glue), hobby-knife or scalpel and N52 neodymium magnets. Of the small kind… The drill-bits I use are either 3, 2 or 1.something millimeters. In the following example, all was done with a 2, and the pin on the foot and base with a 1, that I use to hold the magnets, also. You could need some epoxy in case of accident, or depending on your abilities as a sculptor, going the extra-mile and carving that arm out of that draped shoulder-pad or something… (Been there, done that) Something not ferro-magnetic like the back of a brush, can be useful to flush in some magnets, too.

The magnets I use are 3×1, 2×1 and 2×0.5 Just the last two for this one example Battle Sister. Meaning, the first number: the diameter (round) in millimeters, by (x) millimeters of width. Either one or half a millimeter. You just use a drill-bit of the same size of that first number, and twist it as deep as the second… In case you are really new to this, the ones you want are drill-bits for metal, and using a Dremel-tool is generally a bad idea… (for me at least!) you want to start slow, making sure it goes in straight and centered, and if the contact point is unclear, you can use a dab of fresh paint on the opposing peg or part, to mark the spot by dry-fitting them together.

The main thing to consider, and something you want to keep consistent across your collection is the polarity. The other, points of articulation. The first, you better be religious about, the second can be determined by the range or specific miniature you are working on. For example, I prefer shoulder joints, but this ones were sculpted with the torso, and the flat end of the Sororitas’ gloves it’s a conveniently easy one, too. I have parts that are both.

I don’t know if I’m placing positive pole (North?) up or down… I’ve chosen one side with the first I made, and stuck with it. I came across this Kickstarter recently, and chances are 50% I made it according to what will maybe one day be the standard…

Have all the magnets aligned in the same polarity going from one side to the other. Check as many times as you need. Stop and think about each one you put in… chances are if you are like me, some will go wrong once in a while, after fighting with a super-glue cap, makes you loose your concentration… The point of your hobby knife, inserted on the least visible side groove between the mini and the magnet, a small leaver pressure, and the magnet will jump free never to be found. You want that to happen as little as possible, so always have an already magnetized part handy, to check each magnet individually*. (* You actually end up interiorizing it if you do many in a row, and you keep things tidy,)

So for the arms that is pretty straight forward… most gamers would have enough with that. But to play LEGO 40k you might want to take things further, and magnetize heads, backpacks and gear hanging off the sides… Some ranges are probably calling for hips (imagine that!) and for things like the really cool minis inside the Triumph of Saint Katherine, I’ve magnetized their feet so they can be used as individual figures…

For those, I go with an “up” polarity, regardless of side.

Hope this was of any help for someone out there! I would encourage everyone to do the same, and there will be a 50% chance that it will stick!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Shawshank says:

    That’s amazing. And a lot of work!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Does it seem like it? Well… Maybe… All I can say it’s that it takes me longer to clean and sand the moldlines, than to do this. Maybe not the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shawshank says:

        You have an eye for detail!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete S/ SP says:

    Great post and walkthrough. Have you ever encounted problems whereby the pull of the magnets is stronger than the bond of the glue?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Part of the key to lining up the magnets is that one helps the next ones in line… For the middle axis, like the head, there is a small side-push, but both super glue and having the hole flush to size, lock them in place.

      Like

    2. Maybe you ment by normal use, from pulling them apart…? Not on this sizes, really. Super glue wins.

      Like

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